Art Maker: Peter Dellert, sculptor and collage artist

  • Peter Dellert works on a model for a large replica of an apple corer and peeler. The finished work will be about six feet long. Next to him is the handle of the tool. At right, “Looking for the Bottom of the Well,” mixed media. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Peter Dellert works on a maquette as an in-between phase of creating a large replica of an apple corer and peeler. The finished one will be about six feet long. Next to him is the handle of the tool. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Peter Dellert works on a maquette as an in-between phase of creating a large replica of an apple corer and peeler. The finished one will be about six feet long, part of a series of large outdoor sculptures modeled on hand tools. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • “Bound Egg,”  made from recycled tin ceiling tiles and steel cable. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Peter Dellert works on a maquette as an in-between phase of creating a large replica of an apple corer and peeler. The finished one will be about six feet long, part of a series of large outdoor sculptures modeled on hand tools. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • “Looking for the Bottom of the Well,” mixed media. —Image courtesy Peter Dellert

  • “Protect from Freezing,” mixed media. Image courtesy Peter Dellert

Published: 2/7/2019 4:01:41 PM

A furniture maker, sculptor and collage/mixed media artist, Peter Dellert is especially interested in using old, rusted metal pieces and other found objects as canvasses for some of his work; he’s intrigued by the way nature uses its own creative processes to rework human-made elements.

For an exhibit he staged late last fall at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Holyoke artist combined old metal with material such as onion and garlic skin, wasp nests, leaves, flower petals, sheet music and tea bags, “all of which I have been using for the last ten years or more,” he says. “Shape, patina, and chance prevail in my choices.” 

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you’re currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Peter Dellert: I’m working on some new sculptures, adding to a series of enlarged household kitchen tools, faithfully reproduced up to human scale for outdoor display. They are both humorous and beguiling, and hopefully they’ll spark discussion about the loss of hand and tool use in our culture.

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? 

PD: I am both inspired by the beauty,  diversity and the force of the natural world and deeply frustrated by the lack of current efforts to fully address climate change and the concomitant problems facing us now.

HL: Have you ever had a “mistake” — a project that seemed to be going south — turn into a wonderful discovery instead?

PD: Usually my projects evolve slowly over months, sometimes years, so I am always willing to adapt should new ideas emerge. It’s always necessary to meld your mistakes, however minor, into the finished product. In furniture making, we say it is not how many mistakes you make, but how well you hide them.

HL: Name two artists you admire of who have influenced your work.

PD: Arshile Gorky, the abstract painter of the mid-20th century, has recently inspired my series of sandpaper drawings/paintings. He was, I think, the original abstract expressionist and a remarkable artist given his roots, his history and output, and the shortness of his life.

I’ve also admired the sculptor and artist Louise Bourgeois since seeing a retrospective of her work in the Brooklyn Museum 25 years ago. Her works translate the personal into the universal using unique and original methods. 

HL: What's the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event by another artist or group that you've attended and enjoyed?

PD: I regularly enjoy concerts sponsored by Valley Jazz Shares and am a founding member. I also look forward to summer outdoor performances by Shakespeare and Co. in Lenox. Most recently I saw again the James Turrell exhibition at Mass MOCA, which we are blessed to have there for years to come.

HL: If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you’d be?

PD: In my youth I wanted to be a biologist, more specifically an oceanographer. So I got a degree in biology. But I think I might have preferred being on HMS Beagle with Darwin rather than working in a laboratory doing today’s version of science.

HL: Dream dinner party — who would you invite?

PD: If only they were still with us — Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Cornell, Eva Hesse, Kurt Schwitters, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Lee Miller, Egon Schiele, and maybe Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky for good measure. All would be instructed to come with partners. Cornell would be excused. Louise could bring her long-time assistant, Jerry Gorovoy.

— Steve Pfarrer 

Dellert’s website is peterdellert.com.




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